ESPN Dallas is providing a daily breakdown on how the lockout has affected the individual position groups. Monday it was quarterbacks and the secondary, this morning we go to the backfield.
Position: Running backs
Not under contract: Miller
Player hurt most by lockout: Barber
Player with most to gain: Jones
Analysis: It might seem strange to see Barber's name as the player hurt most by the lockout, but here's why: The Cowboys are expected to release Barber because they don't want to pay him a $500,000 roster bonus in addition to a $4.5 million base salary. He's underachieved since becoming the full-time starter in 2008. As long as the lockout lasts, Barber is in limbo. He can't talk to other teams about his services and if the Cowboys decide to keep him, which seems doubtful, he most likely will compete with Jones for the starting job.
Gronkowski is another player hurt by the lockout. He had some interesting moments during the 2010 season. He missed a blitz pickup leading to Tony Romo suffering a broken collarbone and missed another block on a kickoff which produced Dez Bryant getting a broken ankle, ending his season. There were times where Gronkowski did attack defenders with strong blocks, but he was inconsistent. The selection of Shaun Chapas, a seventh-rounder, will add to some competition in training camp at the fullback position.
Regardless of whether the Cowboys release Barber, it seems Jones is being groomed as the starter. When Barber was healthy toward the end of the season, it was Jones who maintained the starting spot. It seems Jones will be No. 1 on the depth chart when training camp starts. With the team drafting DeMarco Murray in the third round, he's being projected as someone to challenge Choice more than anything else.